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Head of Nigeria’s legislature comes under probe in Seychelles-Report

Authorities in Seychelles have opened a criminal investigation into the multi-million dollar assets which Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, are believed to hold through offshore shell companies in tax havens, PREMIUM TIMES can report

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Authorities in Seychelles have opened a criminal investigation into the multi-million dollar assets which Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, are believed to hold through offshore shell companies in tax havens, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

Bukola and Toyin Saraki are being targeted by financial intelligence operatives for their “suspicious” use of offshore shell companies as uncovered in the Panama Papers investigation published in 2016, according to new records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with PREMIUM TIMES and other partners.

Investigators at the Seychelles Financial Intelligence Unit said they are interested in determining whether or not Mrs Saraki stood as a front for her husband in the ownership of some of the offshore holdings linked to the family when a trove of offshore assets managed by Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, was leaked to the media.
The investigators are also working to determine if the transactions undertaken with the shell companies were used to launder funds or carry out other suspicious activities.

Two weeks after the Sarakis were exposed as owning undeclared offshore assets in violation of Nigeria’s code of conduct regulations, detectives from that country’s FIU asked Mossack Fonseca to furnish them with all documents relating to Sandon Developments Ltd, a firm registered in Seychelles under Toyin Saraki’s name.

Mossack Fonseca responded to the request on April 29, 2018, by forwarding a link to the PREMIUM TIMES article on the Panama Papers as well as all documents relating to Sandon Ltd, including international passports and business activities.

The status of the investigation, however remained unclear as there is no record of any update about it since Mossack Fonseca responded to the authorities’ requests at the end of April 2016.

Mrs Saraki registered Sandon Ltd in 2011 and used it to buy a family property at #8 Whittaker Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 8JQ.

Mr Saraki denied links to the offshore assets in 2016, saying they belonged to his wife’s family. But information obtained by PREMIUM TIMES at the time indicated that the Senate President merely used his wife as a front, and Seychelles authorities also found the denial unconvincing.

The revelations were amongst the findings of a lengthy investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organizations – including PREMIUM TIMES.

Politics

Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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